Chevy Chronicles: Part 3

It has been several months since I posted an update on the restoration of my father’s 1963 Chevy pick-up. It is amazing how far reaching a pandemic can be in its ability to shutdown occupations and hobbies. The good news is that the easing of restrictions has allowed me to return to fulfilling this old man’s aspirations for driving a vintage vehicle once again with a strong family pedigree.

This is the motorized contraption in which I learned to shift gears, both literally and figuratively. It powered us on many a family vacation, when the over-the-cab camper was attached. It hauled a lot of young folks to the beach, when it was lawful to ride in the bed of a pick-up truck. And on those occasions when it was not loaded wall-to-wall with people, it easily handled a friend and me with our surfboards as the only cargo. It was a rather unglamorous three-quarter ton machine, but it served quite well as a romantic getaway during an inexpensive date. In this modern age of economic car design I think we’ve lost an appreciation for what a bench seat can do for the sake of teenage love. It was not desire under the elms, ala Eugene O’Neill. Just a dark spot on a back road, where no one would likely pass by, their innocence ruining ours.

The achievements last fall for the truck’s return to glory were modest. We started on a total rebuild of the wheels and brakes. My part was cleaning parts. My friend Dave’s part was all the technical stuff, resulting in functional brakes, plus the acquisition and installation of new rims and tires. The truck’s first form of transit out of and back into the shop was by people power. Thankfully the wheel work was a success, minimizing the strain on an old man’s back and legs when muscling the vehicle around and about.

I also put a lot of effort into cleaning out the cab. This required removing that wonderful bench seat along with the behind the seat gas tank. Then we excavated years of accumulated debris hidden in every corner of the cab. What joy there is in eliminating all the nests so carefully constructed by various pests, who inhabited the truck during its many years of sitting idle in the California sun. The seat was shipped off to be reupholstered and a new gas tank ordered to replace the sieve the original tank had become.

All is back now. The seat is being kept under cover, while further interior work takes place. The new gas tank has been installed. It just needs a new sending unit, ordered separately. Rubber floor mats are on order. The doors have been removed and the hinges made functional once again sans rust. Throughout the process minor assessments were made to determine what to do about replacing the missing or damaged requisite for a road worthy machine. The windshield is cracked, rearview mirrors AWOL, and the floorboards in the truck’s bed weathered beyond recognition. There is much to do and since I am not going anywhere, there is ample time in which to do it.  

The next major step is a complete overhaul of the engine. That means the dollar signs are looming ever larger as we make progress towards the truck’s movement – under its own power that is.

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